There is a tree in my yard. It's Henry's tree because my brother planted for Henry. It's a maple and Alan planted it as a tiny sapling. At the time it didn't look like much in our yard. But now it's gotten much bigger and it's kinda in my way.
As I was mowing under this tree last week, struggling against the branches that are not small enough to go around and not high enough to go under, I was also pondering parenthood. Like this tree, my kids are not small enough anymore to be easily portable and compliant. And they aren't yet mature enough to completely take care of themselves. They (the tree and my kids) are in the in-between years.
I'll admit to rolling my eyes and grumbling as I lifted branches to get the mower underneath the tree. it's a hard job. I have to hold the branches with one hand and push the mower with the other. Then I have to move around slightly and do it again from another angle. I need to get all the grass underneath the tree so that the tree can grow properly. I don't want stuff in its way, competing for resources.
When the tree was smaller, I could just zip around it. It was not in my way at all. I could easily walk all the way around without worrying that I would bump into branches. I did have to be careful not to bump into the trunk which was only about an inch or two in diameter.
Someday this tree will be big and tall. We will be able to walk under the branches and seek shade under its leaves. There won't be as much to do in order to care for it. It will be nice to picnic under, or climb. In the future, this tree in my yard will provide many fun things for my family.
Right now, in the in-between times, its not as easy to care for as it once was. And its not ready to provide benefits for me. It's just in-between. Needing care; getting in my way on occasion. Growing.
And my kids? They're in the same space: in-between. They aren't as easy as they once were. I can't just bundle them into a car carrier and take off. They get in my way on occasion. They aren't ready to be providing many tangible benefits to me (like mowing the grass!)
As I look at this tree in my annoyance, I see the majestic maple it will become. I understand that the care I give now will have an impact on the tree it will someday be. But more importantly, I look at my kids now and look past my minor annoyances. I can see the teens, young adults, and adults they will become. I'm not in a hurry. I just need to remind myself that the care I give now will have major impact on the majesty they will become. We just have to go through the in-betweens first.
How are you at navigating the in-betweens?